Who or what is the antagonist in the story "The Devil and Tom Walker"? 

Expert Answers
mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Usually if the incarnation of the devil is a character in a story, it can be assumed that he is the antagonist. An antagonist is a character in opposition to the main character or protagonist. Even though Tom Walker's character merits no sympathy, he is the protagonist in Irving's tale, and the devil, here named the "black woodsman" or "old scratch," is set up in conflict with Tom. When they first meet in the swamp, the devil talks about his hatred of the whites who have settled the area around his swamp. He has even labeled some of the trees with the names of rich men in the area. Eventually Tom strikes a deal with "old scratch" and becomes a very wealthy man. The reader may assume that one of those trees came to be marked with Tom's name as well. In the end of the story, despite attempting to fend off the devil with religion, Tom is eventually taken away by a "black man" on a "black horse" to the swamp, which is then set ablaze.

Read the study guide:
The Devil and Tom Walker

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question